by Amanda Woolery
The sun peeked through the chrome colored clouds spotlighting the leafy hills. And here, bordering on the heavens of Jamaica was Jill Scott’s voice. “They say I’m crazy, the way you got me open baby.” Ms. Scott’s Who is Jill Scott? Words and Sounds, Volume 1 was the perfect vibe for Stush in the Bush. Sassy, sexy, mellow and spiritually engaged. Her welcoming tone invited us to the table.
After snaking our way up the windy green hillsides, past the roadside Jamaican mom-and-pop shops and bright orange-peach painted homes, we finally crept up the last hill arriving at Stush in the Bush. A fun play on Jamaican slang, “stush” is equivalent to the African-American term ‘bougie’ (pronounced bo͞o'zhi), meaning pretentious in taste or stuck up. Although this is typically used in an offensive manner, at Stush in the Bush, the pretentiousness is exhibited only in the wildly inspired vegetarian dishes and not in the attitudes of the fetching hosts. Chris and Lisa Binns, along with their daughter Tyler, boast a beautiful love story where Rastafari meets chic.
“My name is J-I-L-L-S-C-O-T-TeeeEeeeEEeeeeeeeEEEE,” Jill melodically spelled her name over iced lemongrass tea. We laughed and exchanged stories and jokes at the handcrafted wooden table. We often paused to gaze into the surrounding mountains spotted with white sheep. It was impossible not to revel in the north side view of the jagged beach-lined coast.
Stush in the Bush is not a place to visit for a quick meal. It is where you experience the energy of the earth and witness how love is transferred from farm to table (and table back to farm with their composting). An organic farm tour is led by Chris, and conveys the sense of pride and patience required to grow things. This is followed by the combination of love and creativity exhibited in Lisa’s vegetarian dishes, made with exactly those ingredients grown across their farmland. Watching it all unfold is a pleasant understanding of the collaborations of love.
“I think it’s better, that I tell you now,” Jill sang over the garden greens. Spinach, kale, mustard greens and arugula sat under cherry tomatoes and fresh watermelon. I loaded warm plantain chips with fresh chimichurri sauce and a touch of Blow Fyah sauce- a fiery scotch bonnet, garlic and cilantro sauce.
The humidity never climbed the hill so it remained cool and breezy under the gentle sun. My mom, sister-in-law and I had been there a few times, but this was a special visit, because it was my nieces’ first trip. She was 5 weeks old and dressed for success in her “Bush Glam,” a term coined by Lisa, expressive of the fact that even in “the bush,” you can still be fabulous. The cool breeze lulled little Ms. Alina into a sweet sleep blanketed by Jill Scott’s warming voice.
“Love, rain, down, on me,” Jilly serenaded across the love-filled table. My mom fell head over heels for the Fyah Grilled pizza, and although quinoa was new to her, she couldn’t stop exclaiming over how flavorful it was and how the carrots managed to be crunchy and tender all at once.
You get closer to the heart of meal when you know where the ingredients are from. It’s a lesson in locality and sustainability that breeds an environment that orbits around such a worthwhile journey. The afternoon concluded with a rich vegan chocolate cake and moist lemon pound cake topped with guava rum sauce.
Purple orchids bounced in the wind to the funky beats of "Exclusively.” We said our farewells to our hosts Lisa, Chris and Tyler as Ms. Jilly from Philly ironically sang us out, “Hello……hello, hello, hello, hello, hello, hello, hello, hello, hello, hello, hello, hello..……...hello.”
- Lemongrass Tea
- Plantain Chips with Blow Fyah Sauce (my favorite)
- Yam Croquettes with Tamarind sauce
- ZionItes Farm Greens with Watermelon and Cherry Tomatoes (with Passionfruit or Mango Vinaigrette)
- Fyah Grilled Pizza topped with Roasted Plantains and Tender Red Onions
- Quinoa Salad with Roasted Kale, Carrots and Beets
- Lemon Pound Cake with Guava Rum Sauce
- Vegan Chocolate Cake
Learn more about Amanda at APARTMENT 5C: http://www.apartment5c.com/